A new political scandal is rocking Montenegro and it involves the controversial regime of Milo Djukanovic, who is serving his fourth term as prime minister.
According to revelations by Rajusko Brajuskovic, a former member of the police’s special forces, there was a top secret police unit dubbed the ‘Black Triads’ that intimidated and terrorised politicians, journalists and intellectuals – anyone who openly opposed Djukanovic.
One of the journalists targeted by the ‘Black Triads’ is reportedly Dusko Jovanovic, the former editor-in-chief of Montenegro’s daily Dan. Jovanovic was assassinated in 2004. Those responsible for his murder (and for attacks on many other Montenegrins) were never found.
The key figure behind the ‘Black Triads’ remains a mystery. There was no initiation or oaths. Only punitive and intimidating acts committed by a group of three police officers who wanted to please the regime of the Podgorica.
Among the victims were well-known personalities who were at the centre of defamation campaigns, according to Brajuskovic who spoke to the daily Vijesti. Brajuskovic also said that Zeliko Ivanovic, the managing director of Vijesti, as well as Gojko Mitrovic, owner of the TV station Elmag, and poet Momir Vojvodic, had been targeted by the ‘Black Triads’. They are all known for their opposition to Djukanovic and his regime.
The actions of the ‘Black Triads’ were directed against those who opposed Djukanovic, including the local leader of the far-right Serbian Radical Party of Vojislav Seselj, who is currently being tried for war crimes by the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal.
Dusan Sekulic, the chief of the Seselj party in Montenegro, told Dan that he had been warned in 2000 by the former police officer to be on alert because he was a target of the ‘Black Triads’.
In response to the allegations, the authorities and others reportedly involved with the ‘Black Triads’ deny any relation with. Veselin Veljovic, the former director of the police of Montenegro and head of the special anti-terrorist unit (SAJ), as well as Miljan Petrovic, director of the Spuz prison and one of Veljovic’s former collaborators. They shared their thoughts about why the former police officer was fired from his job at Spuz. According to Veljovic, Brajuskovic lost his job because he was trying to smuggle drugs into the prison. According to Petrovic, he blackmailed authorities to obtain benefits for members of his family.
But according to the daily Monitor, which published the story, the former police officer was a close collaborator and personal bodyguard of Veljovic, the former director of the Montenegrin police force. This could mean he was a high-level member of the ‘Black Triads’.
The police of Montenegro after the case became of known to the public invited Brajuskovic to provide further explanations. This provoked a statement by the leader of the opposition, Nebojša Medojevi?, the president of the Movement for Changes (PZP), in favour of international protection for the former police officer because he is a key witness against “the mafia in power”.
Though many questions remain unanswered, one thing is certain. The scandal in Montenegro is adding fuel to a firestorm of accusations against the current regime.
Milo Djukanovic and his regime have been in power for more than 20 years. Djukanovic, a controversial politician at the head of a controversial regime, was born to a middle-class family in Montenegro. The son of a court judge, he enjoyed a fast rise to power. Having joined the Yugoslav League of Communists at a young age, he became a member of the central committee in 1988. One year later and at the age of 26, he was a member of the Troika that took control of Montenegro.
Djukanovic played a key role in the transformation of the communist league in the Party of Socialists of Montenegro (DPS), which he has been leading since 1998.
A former ally of Slobodan Milosevic and furious opponent against Croats during the Civil War, he was quick to switch sides and adopt pro-Western positions.
Montenegro is one of the first former Yugoslav republics to recognize Kosovo and to form diplomatic relations with Croatia.
Djukanovic has been serving as prime minister since 1991, elected four times (1991-1998, 2003-2006, 2008-2010 and again in 2012 till today). He also served as the President of the Republic between 1998 and 2002.
Djukanovic is also a successful entrepreneur. He is the owner of five known companies.
But his profile has been overshadowed by serious accusations of tobacco smuggling by the Italian authorities. In 2003, the prosecutor’s office in Naples, Italy, linked him to an organised smuggling racket. Djukanovic, however, denied the accusation.
In 2009, the Italian authorities dropped the case against him. One year later Montenegro became an official candidate for accession to the European Union.